(Chengdu Universiade) Brewing gold: A cup of coffee's journey to FISU Games

Updated: August 7, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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This photo taken on March 5, 2021 shows coffee fruits at Baoshan Beaton Coffee Farm in southwest China's Yunnan Province. (Xinhua)

KUNMING, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- In the bustling Games Village of the FISU World University Games, coffee robots have quickly become the talk of the town. Sporting two thick and efficient machine arms, these automated baristas garnered a following among young global athletes seeking a delightful dose.

With great precision, the robots effortlessly whipped up a cup of steaming hot coffee in less than a minute. They carry out this ritual over a thousand times a day.

"Every day, athletes flock to the coffee robots to indulge in the exquisite pleasure of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. They like the flavor and fragrance," said Liu Peizhou, a staffer at the Games Village in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province.

As the exclusive coffee provider for this year's FISU Games, Ding's Coffee has established over ten inviting spots throughout diverse venues, with working staff sharing stories surrounding the small-grain coffee from the city of Baoshan in Yunnan Province, about 1,000 km away from Chengdu.

Lujiangba Valley, in Baoshan's Longyang District, is known as the hometown of small-grain coffee. With an average annual temperature of 21.3 degrees Celsius and an abundance of sunshine, it enjoys a notable temperature difference between day and night. The yearly rainfall ranges between 700 and 1,000 mm, resulting in a dry and sunny climate with minimal frost throughout the year. Such a natural environment has been more than favorable for growing small-grain coffee.

Researcher Huang Jiaxiong, the chief coffee expert at the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said Yunnan has an extensive history of cultivating small-grain coffee.

"As early as 1952, the institute introduced seedlings of the small-grain coffee," Huang said. "The Baoshan small-grain coffee primarily belongs to the catimor coffee varietal, which is resistant to rust, short in plant type, and high in yield."

In recent years, the cultivation of small-grain coffee with excellent quality and high market value has been steadily expanding in Baoshan. In 2022, specifically in Longyang District, the coffee planting area reached 116,000 mu (approximately 7,733 hectares), with a total output of 20,000 tonnes of coffee beans.

The flourishing coffee industry has become a significant source of livelihood for the local community. More than 15,000 households and over 50,000 individuals were actively engaged in various aspects of the coffee industry, including cultivation, processing, and distribution, and the entire coffee value chain contributed to an output value of over 4 billion yuan (about 558 million U.S. dollars) in 2022.

"For me, the small-grain coffee represents the hope of the domestic coffee industry in China. I want to prove with facts that domestic coffee is no worse than foreign coffee and its quality is better," said Ding Zhi, head of Ding's Coffee.

"Baoshan small-grain coffee boasts a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from others. It possesses a delightful strength without any bitterness, a great fragrance that is not overpowering, and a subtle acidity that adds to its charm," Ding said, adding that this distinct combination of taste attributes convinced him to shift his focus from selling coffee from various regions worldwide to exclusively offering Baoshan small-grain coffee.

In 2008, coffee lover Ding Zhi opened Ding's Coffee in Chengdu. The following year, he contracted two mountain areas in Baoshan, partnering with local farmers to establish cooperatives and coffee planting bases. He planted about 3,000 mu of coffee trees, exclusively focusing on small-grain coffee.

At the end of 2021, Ding's Coffee became the designated coffee brand of the Chengdu FISU Games. About 200,000 cups of the coffee are expected to be provided for the event.

"The journey of domestic coffee to the international stage has just begun," said Ding, who operates four stores in Chengdu and plans to open another one in Kyoto.  

Editor: Yang Linlin